Globetrotters 'draft' UM's Johnson, Nance-Johnson

HELENA, Mont. — The Harlem Globetrotters’ 2010 draft class includes former University of Montana guard Anthony Johnson and his wife, former Lady Griz guard Shaunte Nance-Johnson, the team announced Tuesday.

The couple from Tacoma, Wash., are among a group of six players who are invited to fall training camp to vie for a spot on the Globetrotters roster for the team’s 85th season, said team spokesman Brett Meister.

Anthony Johnson gained national attention after scoring 42 points, including Montana’s last 21, as the Grizzlies rallied from a 22-point deficit to beat Weber State 66-65 in the Big Sky Conference tournament championship and claim the league’s spot in the NCAA tournament. He worked out last week for the New Jersey Nets and was working out Tuesday for the Boston Celtics.

Nance-Johnson started 26 games for the Lady Griz last season and led the team with 103 assists.

Both graduated from the University of Montana with degrees in communications.

“We are always on the lookout for outstanding players and, just as important, outstanding people,” said Sweet Lou Dunbar, who played for the Globetrotters for nearly three decades and is now the team’s director of player personnel. “The Globetrotters are very proud of our reputation for providing first-class entertainment for families of all ages, and Anthony and Shaunte epitomize the perfect combination of family and great playing ability,” he said.

The call from the Globetrotters surprised the Johnsons.

“When (the Globetrotters) contacted us, Anthony and I both thought we were being punked,” Nance-Johnson said. “When he finally convinced us he was serious, we were just overwhelmed.

“It’s a huge honor that someone is interested in our basketball abilities, but the Globetrotters also represent character and service, and they have a history with the African-American community, which is important to us,” she said.

Nance-Johnson said her husband’s top priority is fulfilling his dream to play in the NBA, and his second option is playing overseas. If the Johnsons opt to play for the Globetrotters, Nance-Johnson would be just the ninth woman to play for the franchise.

The Globetrotters also selected guard Mark Titus of Brownsburg, Ind. Titus joined the Ohio State men’s basketball team as a manager, but earned a spot as a team member with his shooting ability.

Also invited to the October training camp are: 2010 college slam dunk champion and Vermont forward Marqus Blakely of Metuchen, N.J.; slam-dunk runner-up and Bradley guard Chris Roberts of Fort Worth, Texas, and SMU point guard Derek Williams of Queens, N.Y.

It has been 17 years since the Globetrotters have had a female player on the roster. One of them, Joyce Walker, coached Nance-Johnson in a Washington high school all-star game in 2005.

The current Globetrotters roster includes Shane “Scooter” Christensen, who led Montana to a spot in the NCAA tournament in 2002.

The Associated Press

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